If you’ve followed the tech side of my blog, you know that I actually prefer Windows 10 Mobile over both Android and iOS (yeah, a particularly rare breed). I’ve touted the benefits of the connected Windows ecosystem and services for mobile, home & office work using everything from Cortana (Siri and Google Assist competitor) and Continuum (connect your phone to a monitor and keyboard/mouse to use like a PC) to Office and Skype to get work done. While the lack of apps is given as its major fault, with the slip of a small market share to a tiny one, supporting existing apps becomes the major issue (I’m looking at you Spotify). Despite those challenges, I still love the platform and still prefer it to the others. With Nougat, Android becomes more consumer friendly and less like a tech experiment but the issues of fragmentation and keeping current continue. While Apple has the benefit of owning the whole experience to help keep users current, the dark side of the proposition is the utter control – it’s their way or no way. For me, Microsoft has been a nice balance of a user friendly experience and options.
However, as I continue my Quixotic quest of holding on to a third platform, I must confess the bad with the good. My Lumia 950 headphone jack is 90% defunct. It physically won’t recognize being plugged into headphones unless you hold it pressed at a weird angle and never move. Bummer. Shame on Microsoft; I had this phone for just days past its warranty when the failure began. I’m quite confident it hasn’t gone through anything more than normal wear and tear. So, this should not have failed. However, my backup plan is Apple 7’s only plan – a USB C to 3.5 mm headphone jack dongle as well as using Bluetooth. So, the good news here is that I have a backup that works; the bad news is I need a backup.
I recently purchased Zinsoko Type-C to 3.5mm Audio Headphone Stereo Sound Port Adapter USB-C USB-3.1 Connector Convertor Cable. The dongle works well. The sound is fabulous. It’s also designed to allow for a phone case. Another piece of the good news is that my Lumia uses Qi wireless charging so that, unlike the iPhone 7, I can listen to music with the dongle in and still charge my phone. The bad news, besides having to purchase and keep track of a dongle, is that the mobile controls and microphone on my Sennheiser Momentums no longer work; the phone thinks it’s putting sound out to an external screen (since it can, using Continuum). I’ll live.
While I have Bluetooth speakers (in the form of Amazon’s Echo and Fugoo’s Style) as well as inexpensive but surprisingly good headphones in Mpow’s Wolverine (used mainly when working out and listening to Audible books while walking with my dog), Bluetooth still doesn’t match wired headsets like the aforementioned Sennheiser’s, my Shure 215e‘s or Grado‘s (for more about my headphone choices, see Cans: A Personal Journey through Soundscapes). The price point where they do come close is a lot more than the $17 I paid for the dongle; in fact, I could get a new phone for less than some of them. I could have spent less for a dongle, but I wanted something that would work well and for some time to come. This has a good connection, good design (such as leaving room for a case), good cabling (high quality TPE and OFE materials), light (5 g) and small (5 in), so it doesn’t drag the headset cord down or unduly add to the length.
My next challenge was listening to audio in my car (mainly used for Audible books, music and GPS). None of my cars have Bluetooth (they’re older – hey, I have teenage drivers). I can’t use the auxiliary cord anymore. For navigation and Audible books, my Plantronics M165 Marque 2 Ultralight Bluetooth Headset is great, but since it’s one ear only and not a speaker designed for music, I really wanted something to allow me to listen through my car’s speakers. So, I ordered an AUKEY Bluetooth Transmitter & Receiver. Pairing is straightforward, sound is good and the thing is light as a feather (a 40g feather). I’ve had good experience with Aukey in the past (cables, chargers). I anticipate good longevity out of this unit as well. While not audiophile grade, given the level of speakers I have in my cars, it’s more than adequate.
This can also be used to listen phone through headphones via Bluetooth with surprisingly good results. So, if you had to choose, you could simply get the Bluetooth device. Typically, I would simply connect to via Zinsoko’s dongle. It’s nice to have both. The Bluetooth connector will usually remain in the car.
So, while not ideal, I have some good options that worked out well and will allow me to keep my phone (I listen to a lot of music, books and video on it as well a navigation). If it just had a regular micro-usb port (like most android phones) and a headphone jack, I would be stuck with Bluetooth (in this case, not a bad sounding option since I have good headphones) or a new phone. Now I can use the relatively good cans I own and listen to my hearts content. Ah, the joy and curse of technology.